Strengthening research capacity in the papyrus collection of the Oslo University Library (2012-2015)
This project aims at producing scholarly editions of the unpublished texts in the papyrus collection of the Oslo University Library. The editors will decipher and translate the texts and will assess their content, context and contribution to modern scholarly debates about literature, language and life in the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine Egypt. By publishing new primary sources the research work will throw light on ongoing scholarly debates in papyrology and related fields (classical philology, ancient history, history of language, history of science, history of ideas etc.) The long-term goal of the project is to develop research capacity in papyrology with the Oslo collection as its core and stimulant.
About the project
This project continues the NFR-funded project "Editing Papyrus Texts from the Collection of the Oslo University Library". The project seeks to consolidate, strengthen and specialise research capacity and related activities, centred around the still unpublished papyrus texts from the collection of the Oslo University Library.
The primary objective of this project is to reinforce research capacity in the Oslo University Library papyrus collection by concentrating on subfields of papyrological research to which the Oslo collection has made and has still the potential to make a particularly original contribution.
Starting from the second half of the 19th century a continuous trail of ancient texts on papyrus, parchment, potsherds, wooden- and wax-tablets, and linen has emerged, from the sands and dry soil of Egypt. Whether uncovered in an ancient site or bought from private individuals, often antiquities dealers, texts on papyrus have made their way to papyrus collections in Egypt itself and the world over.
Between 1910 and 1936 and mainly through the efforts of the classical scholars Samson Eitrem and Leiv Amundsen the Oslo University Library has acquired a papyrus collection compirising ca. 2300 fragmentary texts. The vast majority are in Greek. The collection also includes a modest number of texts in Egyptian (Hieroglyphic, Demotic and Coptic), Latin and Arabic. These texts are primary sources from antiquity and witness in various ways the life and culture of Egypt between its conquest by Alexander the Great (332 BCE) and its submission to the Arabs, i.e. during a period when the country was first under Greek, then under Roman (3o BCE-) and finally under Arab rule (CE 641-). Texts on papyrus vary in type: fragments of works of the classical Greek literature (Homer, Herodotus, Euripides etc.) have been found along with Old and New Testament fragments, texts for use at school, magical recipes and amulets, medical treatises, manuals and prescriptions, and last but not least documents of everyday life: letters, petitions, administrative reports, census returns, accounts and receipts, horoscopes, marriage and divorce deeds, notifications of death and much more.
Editorial work on unpublished papyrus fragments is at the core of our research. The aim is to reinstate the series Papyri Osloenses, the first three volumes of which appeared between 1925 and 1936 (eds. S. Eitrem and L. Amundsen).
In parallel we will be carrying out research on fields of ancient literature and life which papyri in general and the Oslo papyri in particular contribute to illuminate.
The workshops will focus on the following areas of papyrological research: